Reopened Saudi market boosts Indian meat exports

Friday, 26 December 2003, 08:00 Hrs
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NEW DELHI: India's meat export prospects have brightened with Saudi Arabia resuming the import of mutton, and countries like Egypt, Russia and Iraq expected to follow suit.

In just one month of Saudi Arabia lifting its ban on the import of mutton from India - though it is still to do the same for buffalo meat - some exporters have seen a 20 percent jump in volume.

In fact, animal products are among agro and processed foods witnessing an increase in exports, according to K.S. Money, chairman of the state-owned Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA).

"The lifting of the ban by Saudi Arabia has been a positive development. We are hopeful that permission for buffalo meat will follow soon. We are taking up the issue with the Saudi government," Money told IANS.

Prospects are also bright of Egypt reopening its market from January, after the visit of a second team to inspect abattoirs and packaging units.

Incidents of foot and mouth disease (FMD) in some parts of India were the reason for the ban on imports by many countries, officials said.

While Saudi Arabia has resumed meat imports from India after over two decades, and some other like Jordan did it earlier this year, there are several others that are insisting on a certified assurance on the FMD.

"Countries like Russia have been insisting on a guarantee that the meat is from an FMD-free region, which is not possible as we can only give assurance on a zone and not a state or region," said Money.

Fair Exports India Pvt Ltd, a subsidiary of the United Arab Emirates-based Emke Group, is one of the meat exporters that has witnessed a 25 percent jump in exports with the Saudi Arabian market reopening.

"With our wide network, we have definitely benefited with Saudi Arabia allowing mutton imports, though we were exporting more of buffalo meat to the Saudi market. From 3,000 tonnes per month our exports of meat, including beef, have gone up to around 4,000 tonnes," said Yousaf Ali M.A., managing director of Emke Group and Fair Exports.

Fair Exports, which has four meat processing plants in the country, has started supplying mutton cubes to Saudi Arabia in the last one month. The company has bagged a certificate for merit from APEDA for its performance in 2002.

The meat exporters are hopeful of the ban on buffalo meat also being lifted in a few weeks.

"Saudi Arabia used to be a major importer. Now things are hopefully moving back in that direction. We are waiting to hear the decision on buffalo meat imports, with the government pushing our case," said M. Kalim Khan, deputy general manager, marketing, of Hind Agro Industries Ltd.

With higher demand in the last few months from countries like Jordan, Kuwait and now Saudi Arabia, Hind Agro is also looking forward to a jump of at least 15 percent in meat exports.

From April to October this year, India's exports of meat and meat preparations were at around the same level as $169.4 million last year during the corresponding period.

But now expectations are that meat exports will reach a higher level

Source: IANS
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